Winter weather springs back: Power out to homes, spinouts are reported on the roads |

Winter weather springs back: Power out to homes, spinouts are reported on the roads

Susan Wood
Mark Griege enjoys the first day of spring by skiing in more than 2 feet of fresh powder at Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort on Sunday morning. More of the white stuff is on the way. Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

The first day of spring roared in Sunday much like the final day of summer – with a vengeance, knocking out power to many households, sending motorists into ditches and banks, but making skiers and boarders forget about tennis and gardening for now.

And it’s not over, as the National Weather Service in Reno predicts a slightly stronger system moving in Monday night after a short reprieve.

For this last storm, more than 2,000 customers lost power, according to Sierra Pacific Power’s spokesman Karl Walquist. At 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the Meyers substation had an equipment failure that prompted the utility company to switch to another system. In addition, 30 households may still be without power because of the wind and snow, but the company may need to know who they are, Walquist added at 3:30 p.m. Those still without power Monday are asked to call the Sierra Pacific repair line at (530) 541-1628.

The snowfall that made chains mandatory on mountain thoroughfares – I-80 and Highway 50 – was heavy at times on Sunday. Caltrans was conducting avalanche controls at midnight to open up the road for skier traffic.

Law enforcement reported spinouts on both sides of the state line – but no major injury accidents.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Larry Barnes warned motorists not to have a false sense of security with sport utility vehicles.

“All the wrecks involved SUVs. They have four-wheel drive, but that’s only good for traction,” he said Sunday, after responding to a three-car accident on Route 28 the day before at 3 p.m. A motorist declined transport from a rollover on Highway 50 near Spooner Summit.

And of course, sedans must proceed with caution. One went over the snowbank off the Sierra-at-Tahoe Road Sunday, with two passengers standing there awaiting their next move.

The skiers and boarders who made it to the resorts were more than happy to celebrate the first day of spring with fresh powder.

“By the way, welcome to spring,” Adon Mautafian of Los Gatos said on the West Bowl chairlift. “This is the best day I’ve had (of skiing) all year.”

His friend, Darlene Tarantino, talked him into zooming up to Sierra-at-Tahoe for the day. They were rewarded with 28 inches of freshies.

Boarders had the same thought in mind.

“I thought it was over and wondered if I’d have to put it away. But you never know when you’re going to get a big dump,” Joe Lopez of Sacramento said, looking down at his snowboard on the Escape run. Lopez was covered with blowing snow – gusts hit 100 mph on the ridges – but he looked happy.

So did the Ludwig family, who wrote the spring break Sunday into the household calendar two weeks ago.

“We knew we had to have one more good dump,” Bill Ludwig said, preparing for the day with his wife, Kathy, and 7-year-old son, Matthew.

She said the family time is important. They even relinquished their church service that morning for a powder day.

“We can get church on TIVO later,” she said, giggling.

Skiers will have more to rejoice over this week.

The National Weather Service will issue a winter storm watch for Monday night into Tuesday when a stronger storm moves through. Meteorologist Chris Shulz predicts 1 foot will fall at the lake with 1- to 3 feet above 7,000 feet.

“This may be more potent but faster moving,” he said. High winds are also expected to come with it. Scattered showers are anticipated Wednesday and Thursday, with a drying out on the weekend.

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